Is It Time For A Federal Quail Stamp?
If you are – as I am – a waterfowler as well as a quail hunter, you know how important the federal duck stamp program has been to waterfowl production and habitat conservation since its inception in 1934. Our system of national wildlife refuges funded by our duck stamp purchases is unique in the world as a shining example of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and is something we as hunters should justifiably be proud of.
But here’s a question I’ve been kicking around in my head for a while now: would it be possible to emulate the structure and the success of the duck stamp program, but with upland gamebirds as the target species? And if it were possible, would now be the time to do it?
I think the parallels between the basic problems facing ducks at the turn of the century and upland birds now are obvious: precipitous declines in populations brought on by a steep and ever-accelerating loss of habitat.
Of course, there are also some fundamental differences, too. Ducks and geese are migratory and therefore require a certain level of federal involvement, whereas most upland species are not. For lack of a better term (and for better or worse) upland birds like quail are “states’ rights” birds.
And to what uses or goals would those funds be applied and allocated? National wildlife refuges focused on upland habitat? Research? Education? And more importantly, what species?
Admittedly, there are a host of technical and ecological roadblocks to implementing a federal upland bird recovery program. Daunting, to be sure, but not insurmountable. And with the looming threat of federal involvement in the management of several threatened upland bird species, anyway, perhaps it’s time to look forward by taking a look back into history.
What do you think? Would you be in favor of a federal upland bird stamp structured like the duck stamp program? I’d buy a federal quail stamp, how about you?
Chad Love writes for Quail Forever from Woodward, Oklahoma. He is a lifelong quail hunter and “bird dog guy” who also writes for Field & Stream, including the magazine’s “Man’s Best Friend” gundog blog.